Photo Credit: Jason Coudriet

Build a Better Lead Magnet

my story of iteration & experimentation

In my last article I talked about Sean McCabe’s advice to spend 20 minutes on your lead magnet before pushing it out into the world. Less than a half hour. The point isn’t to create the best thing ever but to put something valuable out where people can access that value. Once it’s out there you can iterate. You can’t help people when your valuable content is still in draft mode, and you can’t make something better before it exists in the first place.

I took Sean’s advice and published a lead magnet that took 20 minutes to create.

It was a single-page PDF about strengthening your online portfolio. The guide was short, actionable, and effective… for the people who needed it. It hasn’t gotten me many leads, though, because the people who need this guide don’t necessarily need the supposedly related product and service that I offer.

I’m glad I didn’t spend much time on this lead magnet. If I had, it would have been wasted. I don’t consider the time I did spend wasted because it taught me something important:

I now have a better picture of who my audience is (and isn’t) based on their response to that first lead magnet.

Years ago when I was in a different field of work I spent hours and hours producing a multi-page instructional booklet that acted as a lead magnet for my first real book. It was effective enough. Still, neither the free booklet nor the book I sold were truly serving my audience. Some of them bought, but the feedback I started hearing tended to be along these lines:

“I enjoyed reading your instructional book, but it was the poetry of your writing, not the instructions, that make me want to read more. Please publish a book of poetry.”

Reflecting on that experience makes me agree with Sean even more.

The time had come to iterate and build a better lead magnet.

So I created a mini-course that fit my product and service a little better than the PDF portfolio guide did. I outlined it, spending only about ten minutes this time. Then I did a little test, showing the outline to someone solidly within my target audience. She said the word “portfolio” turned her off. “I don’t think this is for me.”

I’m really glad I didn’t spend a lot of time on this iteration.

We talked a lot about the products and services I offer. The conversation made me realize that what I call a portfolio my audience calls a collection of stories that sell. I also realized I was focusing way to much on that ultimate result, not addressing my audience’s current struggle.

They don’t see a need for a solid portfolio, or even a collection of stories that sell, so much as a need for help writing those stories.

The mini-course concept was solid, even if the messaging was off.

This brings me to my current iteration: Storytelling Made Simple, Business Edition in which I teach a tried-and-true method of telling stories in the context of content marketing. And yes, it’s free.

Will it be effective? Time will tell.

I continue to keep the heart of Sean’s advice in mind as I finish it up:

Keep it simple, ship it out. Then iterate and make it better.

That way I’m sure not to waste your valuable time or mine crafting something useless.

Previously in this series…

Wife💑Mama👧👦Entrepreneur✍️Cut the time you spend writing in half:

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